Anonymous / AP
TAIPEI, Taiwan – The death toll in a fire in southern Taiwan that engulfed a building overnight rose to 46, officials said Thursday who said at least 41 other people were injured.
The 13-story building caught fire around 3 a.m. Thursday, Kaohsiung City firefighters said. A fire department statement said the blaze was “extremely fierce” and destroyed many floors.
Authorities say 32 bodies were sent directly to the morgue from the site of the fire. Another 14 people who showed no signs of life were among the 55 taken to hospital. In Taiwan, official confirmation of a death can only be made in hospital.
Another search of the building was scheduled before sunset, officials said.
A video shown on Taiwanese television showed orange flames and smoke billowing from the lower floors of the building as firefighters sprayed water on them from the street. A woman, who has not been identified, said her parents, aged 60 to 70, were inside.
After daybreak, firefighters could be seen spraying water into the middle floors of the still smoking building from raised platforms.
The cause of the blaze was unclear, but firefighters noted that the flames burned most intensely where much of the mess had accumulated, the fire department statement said.
Eyewitnesses told Taiwanese media that they heard an explosion around 3 a.m.
The building is about 40 years old with shops on the lower levels and apartments above. The lower floors were completely blackened.